My Fave Five: Movie Sequels

Story posted February 5, 2023 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Rachel Newnam

In classic sibling fashion, my brother and I became close as we both got older. One of the things that brought us together was watching movies together late at night during quarantine.

In doing this, we realized everybody seems to believe sequels can never be as good as the original, but there are an abundance of sequels that are just as good, if not better, than their predecessor.

I have some very specific guidelines for what qualifies as a sequel versus a series, but these are some of my go-to sequels that are unequivocally better than their original film.

“Cars 2”

The original “Cars” film is perfectly adequate. It has a great storyline with a nice character arc for Lightning McQueen. “Cars 2,” however, is jam-packed with adventure, suspense and even some romance.

The movie introduces Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), a redneck tow truck who has spent his life in Radiator Springs, as its main character. After the original film, Mater was incredibly well-loved and arguably more popular among fans than Lightning McQueen, so it makes perfect sense that he would be assuming the role of main character in the sequel.

Mater, who is unapologetically true to himself despite being a little clueless, is mistaken as an American spy who is meant to be helping a James Bond-esque character named Finn McMissile.

Mater spends the film trying to solve the mystery identity of an international criminal who is plotting to take over the World Grand Prix and destroy all cars that use an environmentally-friendly fuel that the curator of the race created.

There is no question that “Cars 2” is more interesting than “Cars” and simply a better movie overall.

“Cheaper by the Dozen 2”

When I’m sad, stressed, or just in a bad mood, there is only one movie that has the unrivaled ability to cheer me up, and that is “Cheaper by the Dozen.”

I will never get over how far superior “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” is in comparison to the first movie.

“Cheaper by the Dozen” is endearing and a perfect family film. “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” is also a family film, but the Steve Martin and Eugene Levy combination is unbeatable, and the mischief that the kids get involved in is extremely entertaining and more fun than the first movie since other kids are involved. In addition, the family being on vacation adds to the fun-loving, chaotic essence of the movie.

“Cheaper by the Dozen 2” has everything that one could ask for from the perfect family movie. A teen romance involving Taylor Lautner? Check. An epic battle of dominance between two families? Check. A heartwarming ending? Check! There is no sequel that remotely compares to the dominance of “Cheaper by the Dozen 2.”

“Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again”

This movie has some serious continuity errors, but if you look at it as a stand-alone film and ignore the imperfections that come from the plot of the original movie, “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” is incredible.

When watching “Mamma Mia,” viewers learn about the way Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) was conceived, and the other loves of her mother Donna (Meryl Streep). The entries from Donna’s diary are completely omitted in the second film, but this may be for the best. The plot of the second movie draws viewers in and keeps them watching to learn more about both the A and B plotlines.

Without the flashback scenes, this movie would likely not be on this list. Lily James as young Donna is perfectly casted, and her love interests, Harry, Bill and Sam (Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan and Jeremy Irvine, respectively) are equally as well-cast. The chemistry between James and her male partners are perfectly portrayed and the chemistry between James and Irvine is undeniable.

Additionally, the extra details, such as transitions between scenes and the visual effects, are beautiful. If I had never seen the original “Mamma Mia” film, the second film might be a contestant for my favorite movie of all time.

“Toy Story 2”

There is just something about a rescue mission that makes a movie impossible not to like, especially a Disney movie. In “Toy Story 2,” Woody is sent to the home of a toy collector that has been searching for Woody in order to complete his collection of “Woody’s Roundup” characters, “Woody’s Roundup” being a TV show that the Woody doll was based on.

When the toy collector finally collects Woody, he is “reunited” with his former crew from “Woody’s Roundup,” Prospector, Jessie and Bullseye the Horse, but he has never met any of them since he was Andy’s toy. The new characters keep the movie from being too similar to the first, but the original characters trying to rescue Woody from the toy collector add a funny subplot, especially since they are rescuing him from so far away, rather than across the street, as they were in the original.

The humor in “Toy Story 2” is better, the animation is better and the overall plot is significantly more entertaining.

“Back to the Future II”

Hoverboards, self-tying shoes, flying cars, oh my! “Back to the Future II” was fascinating to me as a kid and is still fascinating to me now, even though the year 2016, which is when the “future” takes place, has come and gone without any sign of these inventions.

I love all three “Back to the Future” movies in different ways, but this one is lovable across the board. The first movie drags on and can be hard for younger viewers to understand since it takes place during an unfamiliar time in the past. The future, on the other hand, is unknown and inspires one's mind to be creative and imagine what could possibly exist in the future.

This movie is also interesting because rather than showing the downside to traveling to the past, it shows the possible ramifications of traveling to the future. While this film may not be unequivocally better than the original film, and you certainly need to watch the first to understand the second, “Back to the Future II” is equally as good.

Honorable mention has to go to “Monsters University,” but I am unsure if that would fit on this list as it is a prequel, not a sequel.

Whether you are loyal to originals, or are a steadfast sequel lover like me, there is no denying that these are fundamentally good, classic movies that do not get as much respect as they should. If all sequels could be as good as these, the world would be a happier place.

Rachel Newnam is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email

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